IMO action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping

Implementing the initial imo strategy on reduction of GHG emissions from ships.

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The Initial IMO Strategy on reduction of GHG emissions from ships

IMO remains committed to reducing GHG emissions from international shipping and, as a matter of urgency, aims to phase them out as soon as possible in this century.

This is the vision in the initial strategy on reduction of GHG emissions from ships, adopted in April 2018.

The Initial IMO Strategy

Levels of ambition include:

Reduction of CO2 emissions per transport work (carbon intensity), as an average across international shipping, by at least 40% by 2030, pursuing efforts towards 70% by 2050, compared to 2008

For the first time a reduction of the total annual GHG emissions from international shipping by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008, while, at the same time, pursuing efforts towards phasing them out as called for in the vision, for achieving CO2 emissions reduction consistent with the Paris Agreement goals.

Reducing GHG emissions from ships – why it matters

Maritime transport is the backbone of international trade and the global economy. Around 80% of global trade by volume is carried by sea, and international seaborne trade has been constantly growing for the last decades (UNCTAD, Review of Maritime Transport 2018).

IMO (International Maritime Organization) is a specialized agency of the United Nations.

Our mission:
safe, secure, clean and sustainable shipping.

CO2 emissions from international shipping were estimated (2012) to be 2.2% of global anthropogenic emissions (Third IMO GHG Study 2014).

IMO2050: How to achieve these ambitious goals

The chart is an illustration of the overall GHG reduction pathway to achieve IMO’s ambitious goals, i.e. the absolute level of GHG emission reduction identified in the IMO GHG Strategy (at least 50% reduction by 2050 expressed in the illustrative chart in solid colours and green stripes).

The IMO GHG Strategy provides a wide list of candidate short-term, mid-term and long-term measures, including for example further improvement of the EEDI and the SEEMP, National Action Plans, enhanced technical cooperation, port activities, research and development, support to the effective uptake of alternative low-carbon and zero-carbon fuels, innovative emission reduction mechanisms, etc.

IMO2050: goals

Timetable of IMO action to reduce GHG emissions from ships

As soon as possible
in this century:
Zero GHG emissions


Resolution on “CO2 emissions from ships” establishes IMO mandate on GHG emission control


Resolution on “IMO Policies and Practices related to the Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Ships”


New regulatory tools to improve the energy efficiency of international ships:

  • Mandatory design requirements (EEDI) for new ships, which set increasingly strict carbon intensity standards
  • Mandatory Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP) for operators to improve the energy efficiency of all ships


EEDI phase 1: 10% reduction in carbon intensity of the ship


Mandatory IMO Data collection system: Ships of 5,000 gross tonnage and above (~85% of emissions from international shipping) are required to collect fuel oil consumption data for annual reporting to IMO, from 1st January 2019


Resolution on the Initial IMO Strategy on reduction of GHG emissions from ships


Adoption of a procedure to assess the impacts on States of candidate measures

Strengthening of the EEDI requirements for some ship types

Resolution on ports and shipping cooperation

Establishment of a GHG Technical cooperation Trust Fund within IMO


EEDI phase 2: up to 20% reduction in carbon intensity of the ship


Mid-term measures to reduce carbon intensity of the fleet by at least 40%


Complete short-term measures and revise the Initial Strategy


EEDI phase 3: up to 30% reduction in carbon intensity of the ship.

Note: early entry into effect (2022) for several ship types with up to 50% carbon intensity reduction for largest containerships


Long-term measures to reduce carbon intensity of the fleet by at least 70%


At least 50% reduction of total annual GHG emissions (requires approximately 85% CO2 reduction per ship)

Zero greenhouse gas emissions

A wide variety of design, operational and economic solutions

Achieving the goals of the Initial IMO GHG Strategy will require a mix of technical, operational and innovative solutions applicable to ships. Some of them, along with indication on their approximate GHG reduction potential, are highlighted below.

IMO: wide variety solutions

Global projects supporting the IMO GHG strategy

Support for implementation of IMO’s energy-efficiency measures is provided, in particular, through major global projects executed by IMO.


The Global Maritime Energy Efficiency Partnerships (GloMEEP) project, supporting the uptake and implementation of energy-efficiency measures for shipping, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions from shipping.

GloMEEP was launched in 2015 in collaboration with the Global Environment Facility and the United Nations Development Programme.

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The Global Industry Alliance to Support Low Carbon Shipping (or GIA), launched in 2017 under the auspices of the GloMEEP project, is identifying and developing solutions that can help overcome barriers to the uptake of energy-efficiency technologies and operational measures in the shipping sector.

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The Global Maritime Technology Cooperation Centres network (GMN) project, funded by the European Union, has established a network of five Maritime Technology Cooperation Centres (MTCCs) in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America and the Pacific.

Through collaboration and outreach activities at regional level, the MTCCs have been focusing their efforts since 2018 to help countries develop national maritime energy-efficiency policies and measures, promote the uptake of low-carbon technologies and operations in maritime transport and establish voluntary pilot data- collection and reporting systems.

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GreenVoyage2050 project, a collaboration between IMO and the Government of Norway. The project, launched in 2019, will initiate and promote global efforts to demonstrate and test technical solutions for reducing such emissions, as well as enhancing knowledge and information sharing to support the IMO GHG reduction strategy.

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Multi-donor trust fund on GHG – IMO agreed in May 2019 to establish a voluntary multi-donor trust fund (“GHG TC-Trust Fund”), to provide a dedicated source of financial support for technical cooperation and capacity-building activities to support the implementation of the Initial IMO Strategy on reduction of GHG emissions from ships.

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